Retirement is Different and Difficult for First Responders
First responders have a pretty difficult time with retirement. It “slams the break” on life as they knew it. Even the best prepared can be blindsided by the reality and adjustment of not being able to do what they were trained to do anymore. We all know the dismal stats about first responders dying approximately 5 years (for LEO) after retirement.
Retirement May Leave You Lonely
The gap it leaves in lives is huge and often never filled again. Life is lonely as friends and colleagues return to the busy-ness of their lives. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t have the time. The pomp and circumstance of the “retirement ceremony” quickly fades with nothing beyond worth thinking about for most of them.
I think I may have a solution. These are veteran first responders with tremendous knowledge and skills that we can put to use. My idea, that I have had for years, is to establish a Critical Incident Stress Management Peer Support Group of retired first responders. This accomplishes several objectives: it creates continued connection to other first responders; it keeps them vital and purposeful; it uses their years of experience to reach out and connect with other first responders during and after times of crisis.
Where do we start? We start by putting the word out that there is free training for retired first responders in CISM Peer Support. Grant money could be used for materials and venues. We would open it up to ALL first responder groups, i.e. LEO, Fire, EMS, 911, Marshalls, etc. We could establish a state-wide cadre of teams to answer the call when Critical Incidents happen.
There is much that can come from this. Retired first responders don’t require training hours anymore and they have lots of time on their hands to train. Let’s see what we can do with this, and maybe, just maybe, lives will be saved and enhanced through connection and purpose once again.